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“There Are Others” (School & Allen House Motto)

‘Community Engagement’ has such a transactional ring to it. In reality, the relationships we build in this regard are much closer to being transformational – either by design or just in their development.

Last Saturday, as part of the Mid-North Community Dinner, I spent an evening with an engaging group of boarders’ parents at a smart eatery on Clare High Street, called Seed. It is highly recommended, and I don’t just mean the restaurant. What I mean is, if you ever get the chance, as I did, to share a shiraz with Nicholas Leinert, a conversation with Angus Stockman or a memory with Anna Hawker, do not just take them up on the offer, jump at the opportunity.

You see, part of being at Saints is being part of a wider network and broader association. We should never overlook the value in this – not in any material or promotional sense – but on a deeply personal level of support.

When Mr Oliver Sheahan, current Chairman of the St Peter’s Old Collegians Association, came to speak to the Year 12 students in a recent muster, he offered them life membership of The Association. I had not anticipated what a poignant and moving message this would be. It was as if Mr Sheahan had just put his arm around all of the boys all at once. Yes, there may be 172 different experiences and educational journeys in this particular cohort, but it was pitched perfectly to them by Mr Sheahan, that the unifying element in all of this is the association and the fellowship. Within his words was an offer of support – for life!

This week, we have farewelled the current Year 12 cohort with a week that never fails to test the tension of our heart strings. The renowned Avenue of Honour – boosted this year by the beat of Mr Chan’s excellent drum line ensemble – saw our youngest students from the ELC stand shoulder to shoulder with students in the senior years. Students and staff, parents and guardians lined the avenues of the senior campus, in union, to applaud the Class of 2021 as they took a step closer to a life beyond school.

It would be easy to assume that one’s community is derived from one’s place in the world: one’s school, one’s neighbourhood, one’s town. But this would not be helpful nor appropriate for our graduates who spread their wings in the months ahead. To families of Year 12 especially, know this – Community is about more than a postcode.  Yes, it may start out as something based on shared circumstances, but community, in a St Peters’ College context, is all about a more transcendent kind of togetherness. Just ask Oliver Sheahan or one of the 11,000 SPOC members around the world.

In your support,

Marcus Blackburn
Deputy Headmaster